The Most Common Metro Rail Myths

MYTH 1: "WHAT WE'VE DONE SO FAR IS A FAILURE."

FACT: For a system of its limited size, Metro Rail has been very successful. Metro Rail ridership is higher than ridership of equally small rail systems in other cities. For example, Sacramento has three times as much rail mileage as we do and carries two-thirds as many riders.

MYTH 2: "ANYTHING MORE WE DO WILL BE A FAILURE, BECAUSE MIDDLE-CLASS COMMUTERS WILL NEVER USE PUBLIC TRANSIT."

FACT: Where transit service is good, people use it. At one end of the spectrum, cities with excellent rail service, like New York, have higher transit ridership than Buffalo (over 50% of New Yorkers use a train or bus to get to work). By contrast, cities with even less transit service than Buffalo (including Sunbelt cities like Houston) have even lower ridership than Buffalo. It logically follows that Americans will use public transit if it is convenient for them.

MYTH 3: "BECAUSE ALL NEW JOBS ARE IN THE SUBURBS, WE DON'T NEED PUBLIC TRANSIT ANY MORE."

FACT: In fact, public transit is more necessary now than ever, for two reasons. First, welfare reform will force the carless poor to go to work, and we need public transit to get them to work. Second, the growing number of older Americans will increase the number of people who are physically unable to drive.

MYTH 4: "BUFFALO IS ALREADY SO SPREAD OUT THAT PUBLIC TRANSIT IS INEFFICIENT."

FACT: Buffalo is more densely populated than cities with higher transit ridership. For example, the city of Buffalo is twice as densely populated as the city of Atlanta -- yet Atlanta's transit ridership is higher (about 20% of city residents use public transit to get to work, as opposed to about 15% of Buffalo residents). It logically follows that if our mass transit service equalled that of Atlanta, our ridership would be higher.

MYTH 5: "WE CAN NEVER BRING METRO RAIL TO THE SUBURBS BECAUSE SUBURBANITES ARE AGAINST IT."

FACT: In a WGRZ-TV telephone poll, 80% of metro area residents stated that they favor Metro Rail expansion. And in a 1994 Goldhaber Associates poll, 59.6% of Amherst residents endorsed expansion of Metro Rail into Amherst.

MYTH #6: "THERE'S NO POINT IN SUBSIDIZING METRO RAIL BECAUSE IT DOESN'T PAY FOR ITSELF."

FACT: This argument overlooks two facts. First, almost no other government service is expected to pay for itself -- not food stamps, not public housing, not the Pentagon. Second, mass transit doesn't just benefit the riders who pay for it: it benefits the public as a whole by reducing pollution, traffic, and welfare dependency. It follows that the public as a whole should help pay for it.

MYTH #7: "BUSES ARE MORE EFFICIENT THAN RAIL SERVICE, SO LET'S END THE RAIL SERVICE AND BRING BACK THE BUSES."

FACT: Metro Rail has consistently carried about 25% more passengers than did the buses, and has maintained ridership to a greater extent than buses. Moreover, trains cut the bus travel time in half, adhere more regularly to their timetable, and are more dependable in bad weather.

MYTH #8: "HIGHWAYS ARE MORE POPULAR AND EFFECTIVE NATION-WIDE THAN MASS TRANSIT."

FACT: click here to hear otherwise!Page 1 Page 2